Journal Highlights

Small scale sea ice deformation during N-ICE2015: From compact pack ice to marginal ice zone

Editors’ Highlight

In the context of a spectacular sea ice decline, there has been a growing interest in sea ice kinematics and mechanics over the last 15 years, as associated processes are likely strongly involved in this decline. In particular, the analysis of two sets of data, satellite radar imagery, and tethered buoy trajectories have shown that sea ice deformation is characterized by scaling properties in space and time that are the signature of the underlying brittle dynamics. These scaling properties are now used as evaluation metrics for coupled sea ice/ocean models. However, the limitation of these former datasets was their time (~day) and spatial (~10km) resolutions, raising the fundamental question of how they can be extrapolated to smaller scales, with important consequences in terms of fine scale sea ice physics and dynamics. The authors of this paper present, for the first time, sea ice deformation data obtained at much finer scales from ship radar data (~min and ~100 m) and that show a striking agreement with previous analyses at much larger scales. This allows exploring an entirely new space and time domain of sea ice kinematics and so to better constrain the underlying physics and mechanics. 

Exploring the “solid turbulence” of sea ice dynamics down to unprecedented small scales

Jérôme Weiss


Sea ice decline is an essential player, as well as an emblematic signature, of global warming. Besides sea surface temperature rising, sea ice drift, and deformation play a major role on the observed negative mass balance, thus calling for a deeper understanding of sea ice mechanics. Over the last decades, drifters and satellite data allowed a detailed characterization of sea ice kinematics, however limited by relatively coarse space (∼10 km) and time (∼ day) resolutions. A new work allows bridging the gap between these large scales and fundamental ice physics and mechanics. More…